Let's reclaim happiness: March 20 International Day of Happiness
- Kamran Mofid
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"When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want”
In 2012, the United Nations (UN) declared March 20 to be observed as the International Day of Happiness
Happiness…can change the world
March 20 marks the United Nations International Day of Happiness. The Kingdom of Bhutan, known for adopting Gross National Happiness as a measurement of its people’s prosperity, started the initiative for a day devoted to happiness. All 193 UN member states then adopted the resolution creating a day to inspire action for a happier world. On the first celebration of the Day, in 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others. When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want.”
193 UN member states historically pledged their support for the day, vowing to push forward efforts within their own countries – and with others – to promote the message of happiness which underpins solid, fair and sustainable societies across the world. It follows the adoption, in July 2011, of a UN resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority on a global scale.
During the assembly, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said: “We need a new economic paradigm that recognises the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic, and environmental wellbeing are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.”
The resolution calls on all member states "to observer the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness activities
The day chosen is no coincidence; 20 March is an equinox, when day and night are of equal length, giving extra weight to the day’s message of stability and peace.
However, in today’s money-driven world “Advertisers tell us that happiness comes from buying and consuming their products. Celebrities and the media pretend it comes with beauty & fame. And politicians claim that nothing matters more than growing the economy.
We could point to many studies showing how wrong this all is: lasting happiness does not come from what we consume, how we look or how much we earn. But, let's be honest, you probably knew that already!
Have you had enough of being made to feel poor in a world that is rich with opportunities to be happy? Or do you think we should just stay focused on money and material things?”
At the GCGI we believe that a profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy at all costs.
We believe that creating a happier society requires action at all levels, from political leaders and institutions, but also from us as individual citizens too. When we do things to bring happiness to others, everyone benefits.
And this is why the GCGI came into being:
“To understand, appreciate, and face the challenges of the contemporary world requires us to focus on life’s big picture. Whether it is war and peace, economics and the environment, justice and injustice, love and hatred, cooperation and competition, common good and selfishness, science and technology, progress and poverty, profit and loss, food and population, energy and water, disease and health, education and family, we need the big picture in order to understand and solve the many pressing problems, large and small, regional or global.
The “Big Picture” is also the context in which we can most productively explore the big perennial questions of life - purpose and meaning, virtues and values.
In order to focus on life’s bigger picture and guided by the principles of hard work, commitment, volunteerism and service; with a great passion for dialogue of cultures, civilisations, religions, ideas and visions, at an international conference in Oxford in 2002 the Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) and the GCGI Annual International Conference Series were founded.
We recognise that our socio-economic problems are closely linked to our spiritual problems and vice versa. Moreover, socio-economic justice, peace and harmony will come about only when the essential connection between the spiritual and practical aspects of life is valued. Necessary for this journey is to discover, promote and live for the common good. The principle of the common good reminds us that we are all really responsible for each other – we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers – and must work for social conditions which ensure that every person and every group in society is able to meet their needs and realize their potential. It follows that every group in society must take into account the rights and aspirations of other groups, and the well-being of the whole human family.
One of the greatest challenges of our time is to apply the ideas of the global common good to practical problems and forge common solutions. Translating the contentions of philosophers, spiritual and religious scholars and leaders into agreement between policymakers and nations is the task of statesmen and citizens, a challenge to which Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) adheres. The purpose is not simply talking about the common good, or simply to have a dialogue, but the purpose is to take action, to make the common good and dialogue work for all of us, benefiting us all.
What the GCGI seeks to offer - through its scholarly and research programme, as well as its outreach and dialogue projects - is a vision that positions the quest for economic and social justice, peace and ecological sustainability within the framework of a spiritual consciousness and a practice of open-heartedness, generosity and caring for others. All are thus encouraged by this vision and consciousness to serve the common good.
The GCGI has from the very beginning invited us to move beyond the struggle and confusion of a preoccupied economic and materialistic life to a meaningful and purposeful life of hope and joy, gratitude, compassion, and service for the good of all.
Perhaps our greatest accomplishment has been our ability to bring Globalisation for the Common Good into the common vocabulary and awareness of a greater population along with initiating the necessary discussion as to its meaning and potential in our personal and collective lives.
In short, at Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative we are grateful to be contributing to that vision of a better world, given the goals and objectives that we have been championing since 2002. For that we are most grateful to all our friends and supporters that have made this possible.”
Happy Days to you all